When we begin this game many of us are completely unaware of where we will be in the game when we leave. Will we be playing in the National Pro Fastpitch league? Will we be coaching a local recreational team, will we maybe be playing at college or university? Will we be playing slo pitch or on a local team? or will we be totally done with the practices, tournaments and all out chaos of a busy schedule and many disappointments. The question is, what kind of softball player are you?
As we know, there are more options in softball now than there were even 15 years ago. However these options are not always at the forefront of our minds when we are rookies. Many enter this game as a youth, maybe even at 5 years old. Some female players begin in baseball and move to softball when they “age out” from the boys game. Some such as myself were introduced later in life by friends or coworkers.
When I began, I had no idea that I would be attending College and the National Coaching Institute in a quest to become the most educated and knowledgeable coach that I could. I only knew that I found it very difficult to enter as an adult with unrealistic expectations on my game. Sure I eventually excelled and played well considering my history or lack of history in the game but found that coaching was my favorite position (next to outfield).
I believe that new softball players need to first make sure that they are aware of their skill level and try not to expect too much from themselves. None of us start as professional softball players. If you are a parent with a young child who is entering the sport, it is critical that your child’s needs are first and foremost when planning future involvement. It is not uncommon for parents to sign their young players up for numerous clinics and camps without first asking the player if he/she really wants to attend the event. This can be the start of a path to burnout and take away from the love and desire to play.
Knowing what our goals are and where we are in relation to those goals will also allow us to enjoy our games and training even more if we keep them in perspective. If you goals are to play at a higher level be sure to make a plan and seek the assistance you might need to enhance your success in that goal. Or utilize your coach to ensure that you are working in the right direction for success. If your goal is to enjoy the game for as long as you can at a less intense level then find ways to guarantee that you continue to enjoy the game that can be played right into your retirement. How do you relate to your team mates? So often I have seen players get angry at a play that they or a teammate made that turned into an error or did not have the desired outcome.
Really though, regardless of the skill level we are playing at, we need to be able to let go of that play as something that at the end of the day will not have a huge effect on our life. It’s true that if you are playing in the world championships and the throw allowed the winning run to score in the gold medal game then this is not something that gives any comfort. But it is also something that a majority of us will never have to deal with. If you are a regular player on a regular team at a regular level though, put it in perspective.
Consider also the effect that your frustrations might have on your team mates. A player who gets upset at every error or blames others for losing games is not that much fun to be around, especially in the tough games. We all get upset, but it’s what we do with that frustration that will affect the remainder of the game or tournament. A player who encourages others and is supportive will help the team to keep a positive outlook on the game regardless of how it is going.
As a developing athlete working towards higher goals it is very important to take some time to reflect on your disposition in the game. What do you with errors? What do you do with victories? Being able to maintain a positive and productive outlook while not over celebrating victories will enable you to maintain composure when you need it.
So, what kind of softball player are you?
Next time you are on the field take a second to be aware of how you are with your team mates and officials. Is it the way you thought you would be as a player?